Published December 4, 2013
Taking her place with the Titans
By Mark Vest firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Mark on Twitter.
University of Detroit Mercy’s Louisa Coppola finished her cross country career with the Titans by finishing 47th at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Nov. 15, which tied her for fourth-best in school history with Kim Hemstreet (2001).
Aside from setting a personal record, Coppola’s time of 21 minutes, 34 seconds, helped her improve 28 places from last year’s race.
Prior to the regional, Coppola took third place at the Horizon League Championship, giving her five top-10 finishes for the year. She also earned first team All-Horizon League honors for the second consecutive year.
Coppola joined the Titans after spending two seasons on Macomb Community College’s cross country squad, where she was twice selected All-American, All-Region, and All-MCCAA (Michigan Community College Athletic Association).
Coppola began running cross country as a sophomore at Warren Woods Tower, where aside from serving as a captain for two seasons, she earned All-State, All-County and All-League accolades. Coppola was chosen as team MVP at both Tower and UDM, which seems fitting since, in 2012, Coppola was selected as the Kevin Donner team MVP in her first year with the Titans.
With all that Coppola has put her body through to run cross country, she said that she used to joke that she would “cry with tears of happiness that it was over.” But instead, the realization that she has run her last college race may have helped her gain an appreciation for the experiences she has had as a cross country athlete.
“When it was over, I actually got really sad about it,” Coppola said. “It’s so much a part of your life, and it’s such a big part of your life that, when it’s over, you don’t really know what to do. I love that I was able to have this opportunity to run for (a) Division I school. It was really cool.
“It was a great experience — at regionals, especially — because last year, I turned to my left before we started. There was Michigan. I turned to my right — it’s Michigan State. It’s just like, ‘I’m running alongside these Big Ten schools.’ It’s (a) really cool opportunity to be able to run with these girls, and be able to (be) pushed further and achieve more.”
While it may not have felt very good at the time, a memory that stands out for Coppola is when she fell during a race in Canada. Despite any dejection she may have been going through as she “laid there,” after being picked up by teammate Sara Taylor, she went on to do something that is no small thing to Coppola — she “ran really well” and finished the race.
Having that kind of perspective may have also helped her learn some lessons that could continue to benefit her as she moves forward with her life, even if it isn’t on a college cross country team.
“Last year, when I came into the program, I wasn’t prepared for the amount of miles they ran (because) I didn’t prepare myself in the summer,” she said. “I ended up having tendonitis in both my knees. I would struggle getting up and down the stairs at the library, and walking around. It was a really, really tough time, but it taught me to persevere, take good care of myself, and do what you have to do to prepare. I came back and have no sign of it. I feel great. I ice (and) stretch to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“I (kind of) take that with the rest of my life — you can’t let something keep you down. You have to mentally prepare yourself for everything that (could) happen, and then if something were to happen that’s negative, you have to pick yourself up and keep yourself going.”
While Coppola — who said her family, teammates, and UDM coaches Guy Murray and Lisa Montgomery have been a “good support system” — may miss life as a student-athlete, she has also given some thought to the possibilities that could lie ahead.
“I’m excited,” she said. “Graduating soon, starting a new chapter. Probably will continue running. I will probably keep doing, like, road races — fun stuff like that. I’m really excited to move past this and start something new.”